Young Heroes and their Advocacies

August 13th, 2014
TOSP 2014 Winners

The exemplary students with passion for nation building have been named as the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines 2014. Together with them are their proud parents and the award presenters. (Front row L-R) Billie Dumaliang from Ateneo de Manila University, Angela Sebastian from University of the Philippines-Diliman, Leo Mante from University of Eastern Philippines, Jerry Leonida from University of the Philippines-Visayas, John Masigan from St. Paul University Philippines, Frietz Perales from University of the Philippines-Visayas, Lemuel Silvestre from Far Eastern University, Lancelot Yupingkun from University of the Philippines-Diliman, Alexandra Soledad from University of St. La Salle, and Justin Sucgang from De La Salle University. (Top row, L-R) Alice Eduardo of Sta. Elena Construction, Commissioner Patricia Licuanan of CHED, Cabinet Secretary Jose Almendras, Joey Concepcion of RFM Corporation and Go Negosyo, Marie Concepcion-Young of RFM Foundation and Pamela Asis-Layugan of TOSP Alumni Community.

Throughout the past decades, RFM Foundation, headed by my father and now assisted by my sister, Marie Young, continues its search for the ten exemplary students with the drive to become instruments of change. Beyond academic excellence, their leadership qualities and strong passion to pursue their respective advocacies had benefited communities and changed lives.

And on its 53rd year, TOSP has once again chosen the top 10 of the 30 student finalists from different regions to be the young heroes and role models of our youth today. I can say that they are role models also to me and my generation, as they re-ignite in each one of us the passion to serve and make a difference in the lives of fellow Filipinos.

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of joining the ceremony to recognize the 2014 batch of TOSP. I have heard their stories and was in awe to find these young people so passionate and committed to their advocacies. My father always joins this ceremony as he loves being with young passionate leaders of the TOSP community. Unfortunately, he missed this year’s awarding due to a bad fall that broke his wrist and shoulder. He is now recovering from operation but that didn’t dampen his spirit to greet the TOSP finalists and awardees after the ceremonies.

We thank Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras for leading the awarding ceremonies at the historic Kalayaan Hall of Malacanang and for providing an inspirational message prior to delivering the keynote message from President Aquino. Sec. Almendras considered the 30 finalists as the next heroes who are actually living for others, through their advocacies.

Sec. Almendras was joined by CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, and other supporters and members of the Judging and Screening Committees. Vicky Garchitorena was also present for she is also a TOSP Alumna. Sta. Elena Construction CEO, Alice Eduardo was also moved and almost in tears seeing the reaction of the finalists as they were recognized most especially the top ten along with their proud parents and school heads.

Only ten were chosen, but just like how I said in my message, “Being part of the 30 national finalists is already a blessing.” The future is laid out for these young Bayanis. They are going to be the tools for transformation in this country as they continue to set on with their civic duties and causes.

The 2014 TOSP went under a rigorous process; from the regional selection, to the 30 national finalists, who were evaluated and interviewed by the national board of judges. I am sure the national judges had a hard time to finally trim down the 30 finalists to only ten.

The Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines has now been named and they are: Billie Dumaliang from ADMU, Magna Cum Laude in Management Honors; Angela Sebastian from UP -Diliman, Magna Cum Laude in Communication Research; Leo Mante from University of Eastern Philippines, Cum Laude in Nursing; Jerry Leonida from UP-Visayas, Magna Cum Laude in Fisheries; John Masigan from St. Paul University, Magna Cum Laude in Secondary Education; Frietz Perales from UP-Visayas, Cum Laude in Business Administration; Lancelot Yupingkun from UP-Diliman, Cum Laude in Industrial Engineering; Justin Sucgang from DLSU, Salutatorian in Juris Doctor; Alexandra Soledad from University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, Magna Cum Laude in Political Sciences; and Lemuel Silvestre from Far Eastern University, Summa Cum Laude in Mass Communication.

I believe that these ten students will be an endless source of inspiration to the younger generation; that even in their simplest ways, they can contribute to the change we want to see in the world. One of the ten, Lemuel Silvestre is an advocate of theater and the arts in the country. He shared how he thought that theater is far from nation building and leadership but with his journey with the TOSP community, it made him realize that he, who is from theater, can be a medium to promote not only his advocacy but also the advocacy of his fellow TOSPian.

I heard how challenged and pressured they are to be one of the outstanding students of this country but let me encourage them with the reality that they now have a bigger voice in the society. Their examples will move others to make a difference and follow the paths that they are building. May they not strive for their own personal gains but instead strive to be selfless and pursue the goal of being an agent of change.

The key is to always share. Share what you know and be a blessing to others. The good and remarkable acts will leave a lasting legacy just like how Dr. Jose Rizal’s efforts are enjoyed up to this day as we embrace our democracy. The parents, teachers and mentors of these young leaders may have done the right thing to instil the right values and principles in them because now they have grown up knowing that they should be living not only for themselves but for others as well. They may have not realized it by now but their recognition is not just for the present but also for the future. It will take years to see a concrete change but with their potentials to be change-leaders, there will be a change.

My father always say Yes, the Filipino Youth Can. But one TOSPian said that Filipinos should not only say that they Can, instead we can say, YES, THE FILIPINO WILL !